After third and forth pass edits, I printed out "Vestigial", my post-apocalyptic (with a side of hope) scifi short story. It's on its way to the Writers of the Future contest.
I am proud of this story. It pulled me out of my comfort zone and that's always a good thing for an artist of any stripe. It was also a vastly different experience than writing a novel. And it's more than just a matter of word count. If the first 5 pages are critical in a novel, than the first 5 paragraphs are even more so to the short story. There is no meandering to find the way into the story--the story is already in full swing at the first sentence.
"In media res." (into the middle of things)
The short story begins at a point where things are already happening. One of my writer friends reminded me that the short story opening needs to have the sense of inevitability--the protagonist is already tied up in the events that draw the story forward. While the opening of a novel must contain a hook of some sort to snare the reader, the writer has, at least, a little wiggle room in the novel for development. Not so in the short story.
After working on novels for much of the past 4 years, it was odd to write a complete narrative in one chunk. I keep finding myself thinking of my protagonist, Sanshi, and her world. Is that a place I could 'live' for the year or so I require to finish a novel? She is certainly a character I could love. Her world is on the brink of massive transition, so certainly there is conflict (both internal and external). If plot is what happens to characters as they deal with conflict, then I have plot aplenty.
For now, I will let the world in "Vestigial" remain complete in its short story. I have to finish "Heal Thyself" and then decide between the YA or Adult urban fantasy stories that are competing for my head space.
I have 3-4 months before the next quarterly contest for Writers of the Future and I'm committed to have something to submit each quarter this year. I have a few ideas, including a re-write and extension of my *very* short selkie story. Then there is the peddler/tinker cursed with immortality. He emerged from a writing prompt at my tuesday morning library writer's group and I think he wants his story written.